Thunder deal on hold

Published 8:30 am Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Minneapolis businessman interested in purchasing the Albert Lea Thunder from the North American Hockey League said the deal is still in the works, but several factors have impacted the pace of the process.

Wes Durand, the man interested in purchasing the team, expected the transaction to take place some time last week but mitigating circumstances continue to hold up the deal.

Since former Thunder owner Barry Soskin was ousted by the league Dec. 8 the league has been sorting out the mess of bills Soskin left outstanding throughout Albert Lea. Durand said he and his group are waiting for the league to provide indemnification paperwork to absolve the new ownership group from any responsibility of Soskin’s unpaid bills.

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“We’re putting a proposal on the table,” Durand said. “We just need to be clear from Barry’s debts, whatever debts we don’t know about.”

Both Durand and the league are doing their due diligence to get a deal in place, but it has become apparent that the mess Soskin left behind will take some time to sort. Durand remains confident there will be junior hockey in Albert Lea.

“This group is going to own a hockey team in Albert Lea,” Durand said.

The NAHL held its Top Prospects Tournament in Ann Arbor, Mich. this week and league meetings took place. Durand said his group had representation in Ann Arbor.

“Our interest level has not decreased,” Durand said. “The league has a very good grasp on what the debt is and we need clear-cut indemnification.”

Durand added that completing a deal last week was not feasible given the unknowns at the time.

The question becomes whether Durand and his group can reach a conclusion prior to the completion of this season. If a deal is not reached, Durand and his group would have to buy a NAHL membership in the spring.